Here at Hooniverse we don’t just love cars, we also love the stuff that goes into cars – and onto cars, and under cars – so we’ll be testing, and letting you know how we feel about, all sorts of car-related gadgets. Not as a regular feature so much, just what strikes our fancy. And to that end, I took a look at one way to keep my iPhone from being flung out a window when the force of digging deep into an off-camber, decreasing radius curve makes everything in the car not sufficiently nailed down a prime candidate for a sub-orbital trajectory. Ready? Let’s go. Okay, confession time: I like to drive. I also like to know where I’m going. Because of that, I’ve always kept a Thomas Guide in the car, and when they dropped to under two benjamins, I grabbed up one of those GPS devices that nag you to turn left in 2 miles. That worked out okay as long as I remembered to bring the thing with me- along with the charging cable, suction-cup mount and sand-filled beanbag (Up until last July, California law prohibited you sticking anything onto your windshield) – and forget it if I was jumping into somebody else’s car, I’d probably leave it there. One thing I always have with me is my phone, so I downloaded a couple of those GPS applications for the iPhone to try out, and settled on one that worked pretty well- the Co-Pilot app. This works out okay, but raises the problem of where to put the phone so I can see it, and still use it as a phone. That led to the idea of a mount. Magellan® was kind enough to loan us a sample of their $129.99 MSRP Premium Car Kit which mounts your iPhone securely, via a suction cup foot, and does a hell of a lot more than just keep your phone from sliding out a poorly latched passenger door. No, the Premium Car Kit, as befitting of its name, is a phone cradle on steroids, and has a bunch of but wait there’s more features to boast. First off, it’s a pretty sturdy device- the plastic base and cradle don’t feel flimsy, and the adjustable upper stop allows you to secure your iPhone even if it’s inside a case, which is a great feature as, well. . . I keep my phone in a case. The suction cup foot is lamprey-like and has a little lever for attaching/detaching so you don’t have to press really hard to get it to stick. At the bottom of the cradle is a pivoting iPhone connector that lets you charge the phone through an included 12 volt adapter (does anybody still call these things cigarette lighter adapters anymore?) and also provides an easy mount/dismount. Just remember to stick the landing. Now, just holding and charging doesn’t sound too premium, and the Magellan Car Kit does much more than that. Stuck into the base are a speaker, noise-canceling mic, GPS chip, and bluetooth. The bluetooth and speaker allow you to use your phone hands-free, which is nice as most states prohibit the shoulder-head cell phone pinch these days. The GPS chip helps grab the satellites more quickly than the one built-in to the phone, and lets 2nd-gen iPod Touch owners use their PMPs as Nav devices with the appropriate software. There’s also a mini-plug output to run the audio to your car’s stereo, should your car’s stereo have a corresponding plug on it. So, how does it work? Well, first off I wanted to see if it would function without Magellan’s $60 Roadmate software (warning, iTunes Link), and sure enough, the $35 CoPilot GPS app (oops, ‘nother iTunes link) worked with the Premium Car Kit just fine. It also was able to pair with, and use, the bluetooth and speaker phone without issue, although people on the other end said the volume was low. How low? Eyore emotional-stability low. The Magellan Premium Car Kit does a lot, but, like seemingly everything iPhone-related, it comes at a fairly stiff price- which in this case is $129.99. That’s a lot of cheddar for a phone mount, but you’d pay a lot more if you were to buy stand alone GPS and speakerphone devices. In the end, if you need a full-feature mount for your iPhone, you won’t go wrong with Magellan’s Premium Car Kit, and you’ll be doing the economy some good as well.
Pros: Sturdy Works with iPhone cases Works with any GPS software Built-in GPS works with the 2nd-gen iPod Touch Cons: Pricy Speakerphone performance